Ignatian Prayers: Introduction
Sifting through a box of books on their way to the trash bin in a Jesuit community library, I happened upon a very small prayer booklet. The pages nearly fell apart in my hands and I guessed it to have been printed in the very first part of the 20th century or earlier. It bore no copyright mark or information to aid me in discovering its origin.
This tiny booklet was titled Praying the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. I copied its contents out of fear of losing the original (which has now become like dust) and the prayers eventually made it to digital format and passed around in Jesuit circles in 2003.
The author of the prayers appears to be writing as Saint Ignatius, but it is doubtful that Saint Ignatius wrote these prayers in this form. However, many of the prayers are heavily inspired by Saint Ignatius’ writings, if not taken word for word. Example: Saint Ignatius writes in the Spiritual Exercises that there are three degrees of humility. The first degree is described as, “necessary for eternal salvation; namely, that I so lower and so humble myself, as much as is possible to me, that in everything I obey the law of God, so that, even if they made me lord of all the created things in this world, nor for my own temporal life, I would not be in deliberation about breaking a Commandment, whether Divine or human, which binds me under mortal sin.” The booklet offers a coinciding prayer. “My Lord, I beseech of Thee to grant me a grace absolutely necessary for the eternal salvation of my soul. It is that I may always have sufficient humility, dependence and submission to obey in all things Thy holy law, and that I may never hesitate before an order, or break any command of Thine, or of those appointed by Thee to command me, which obliges me, under pain of mortal sin, not even if by so doing I might preserve my life or obtain possession of the whole world. May I sacrifice my life, or renounce the empire of the entire world before I willingly transgress any of Thy precepts!”
That example is typical of the booklet. Also found in the booklet are prayers directly from Saint Ignatius, such as the Suscipe Domine; writings directly from the Spiritual Exercises, such as the First Principle and Foundation in the Prayer to Obtain the Grace of Understanding the True End of Man; and prayers attributed to Saint Ignatius but that likely have a different origin, such as the Anima Christi.
Furthermore, I have added to the collection of “Ignatian Prayers” by including alternative wording or languages to some of the more standard parts. It is my intention to continue adding to this collection of “Ignatian Prayers” in the same manner as the booklet.
I hope this collection of prayers aids those who read and pray them in the progress towards praising, reverencing and serving God, Our Lord.
John Brown, S.J.